Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Epiphany of Our Lord

The Epiphany of Our Lord (B)
(Transferred) January 7, 2009
Text: Is. 60:1-6

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (Is. 60:1; ESV). Arise, dear Church of God, dear children of the heavenly Father. Shake off your sloth. Wipe the sleep out of your eyes. The God who raises the dead has come in the flesh to raise you to new life in Him. Your Light has come, the Light that lightens every man, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, the Light no darkness can overcome. He comes into our darkness. He comes into the gloomy darkness of sin, death, the devil, and hell to rescue us and to shine His light upon us. For behold, darkness covers the earth. Thick darkness covers the people. No man has light within himself. The darkness of unbelief and a will bound by sin is the mark of this fallen flesh. Natural man does not understand the things of God, for they are folly to him. But when the Light that is Jesus Christ comes and the glory of the Lord rises upon you, you are changed. The Holy Spirit enlightens you with His gifts. That is to say that He brings you to faith in Jesus Christ through the Word and the Sacraments. He calls you by the Gospel, the good news of forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus. He sanctifies you and keeps you. That is to say that when the Light that is Jesus Christ comes upon you by the Holy Spirit working in the Word, to bring you to faith, you become a light in the world, a little christ to your neighbor. God, who has pronounced you righteous by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, now makes you holy. God enlightens you, gives you His light, that you might shine along with Christ and by the power of the Light that is Christ in this world of darkness. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5: 14-16).

The Lord accomplishes this in you. It is His gift, His work. The Lord rises upon you. The Lord’s glory is seen upon you (Is. 60:2). And notice the promise in our text. Nations will come to your light. Kings will come to the brightness of your rising (v. 3). This is the magnificent grace of God that He does His work through you, you who once were darkness but now are light in the Lord. Therefore shake off that spiritual sloth. Repent of your spiritual sleepiness. Your Light has come! The glory of the Lord has risen upon you! You have been forgiven, set free from bondage to sin and death and the devil. Those things have no more claim over you. You have a new Master, Jesus Christ, and He gives you one gift after another, the fruits of His cross. Now lift up your eyes and see what the Lord has done (v. 4). He has called you together to this place called Epiphany Lutheran Church. He has called you to be the Church of God in this community. And He has called you to be a light, a light reflecting the Light of Christ Jesus to a world of darkness. The Lord has delivered the nations to your front door. They all gather together. They come to you. They come because they know you have light. And they know they need light. God brings them here to become sons and daughters, sons and daughters of God to be sure, but notice what the text says… God calls them your sons and daughters. You, the Church, are the mother. You give them birth by Baptism. You nourish them with the Word and with the Holy Supper. And in this way sons come from afar and daughters are carried on the hip of holy Mother Church.

How thrilling! It makes one rather radiant to think about it. It leads one to exult and praise God for the miracle of faith that the Holy Spirit performs in our midst through His Word (v. 5). And that is what Epiphany is all about. The word “Epiphany” means revelation or manifestation. Epiphany is about the revelation of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, as Savior and King not only of Israel, but of all the nations, even the Gentiles. That is why this day we celebrate the coming of the wise men to the young Child, Jesus, in Bethlehem. The wise men were Gentiles. They come from the East to worship their Savior and yours. They fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah, bringing gold and frankincense… Gold because it is the gift of kings, testifying that Jesus is the King of all, God, forever blessed. Frankincense because it is that which is offered to God by the people of Israel in the Old Testament in their incense offerings, testifying that Jesus is the God of Israel in the flesh. And they add yet one more gift, not prophesied in our text: myrrh, an embalming ointment, preparing this young Child, Jesus, for His death. For it is primarily in His death on the cross that He is revealed as Savior of the world. It is primarily in the darkness of His death on the cross that His light shines upon you and the glory of God is revealed. It is in His death that your sins are forgiven. It is in His death that you are redeemed, bought back, for God. It is because of His death that He is risen and so guarantees your own resurrection from the dead and eternal salvation.

All of this He gives you in the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments. He gives you all of this tonight in the absolution, the reading and preaching of His Word, and the Supper of His body and blood. He gives you His light. But He doesn’t give you His light to hide under a basket. He gives you His light to shine. That means evangelism and missions. That means speaking of Christ to your friends and neighbors and to all whom God has placed in your life. That means that you, yourself, make regular use of God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament and invite others to come here to the Church of Christ in this place to bask in the light of Christ. How could you not share what you’ve been given? That is why you are called “Epiphany” congregation, for you reveal Christ to the world. But you let God worry about who comes to faith and who doesn’t. You let God worry about whether the Church grows. Of course it’s always growing, whether we see it or not. All those who are in heaven with Jesus are part of the Church, and every new disciple on earth is an addition to the Church. But whether this congregation has more or less people on its rolls is up to God. You certainly pray for growth, not because of the bottom line on the treasurer’s report, but because you want more people, as many as possible, to know Jesus Christ and His salvation. But you don’t convert. God does. You just shine. And you can shine, because your light has come. You shine with His light. For Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, has come for you. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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